Friday, April 19, 2024

[PaleoIchthyology • 2024] Macroprosopon hiltoni • A Long-snouted marine Bonytongue (Teleostei: Osteoglossidae) from the early Eocene of Morocco and the Phylogenetic Affinities of Marine osteoglossids

Macroprosopon hiltoni
 Capobianco, Zouhri & Friedman, 2024

 life reconstruction by Sky Jung
Osteoglossid bonytongues (arapaimas, arowanas, and relatives) are extant tropical freshwater fishes with a relatively abundant and diverse fossil record. Most osteoglossid fossils come from a 25-million-year interval in the early Palaeogene, when these fishes were distributed worldwide in both freshwater and marine environments. Despite their biogeographic and palaeoecological relevance, and a relative abundance of well-preserved material, the evolutionary relationships between these Palaeogene forms and extant bonytongues remain unclear. Here we describe a new genus of bonytongue from early Eocene marine deposits of Morocco, represented by an articulated, three-dimensionally preserved skull with associated pectoral girdle. This taxon is characterized by an elongated snout, contrasting with the short jaws usually found in marine representatives of the clade. A revision of morphological characters in bonytongues allows us to place this new genus, together with other marine and freshwater Eocene taxa, within crown osteoglossids and closely related to extant arapaimines. The discovery of the new Moroccan taxon hints at a previously underestimated eco-morphological diversity of marine bonytongues, highlighting the diverse trophic niches that these fishes occupied in early Palaeogene seas.

computed tomography, fish, fossil evidence, Palaeogene, phylogeny, Osteoglossoidei

Macroprosopon hiltoni

Alessio Capobianco, Samir Zouhri and Matt Friedman. 2024. A Long-snouted marine Bonytongue (Teleostei: Osteoglossidae) from the early Eocene of Morocco and the Phylogenetic Affinities of Marine osteoglossids. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. zlae015. DOI: 10.1093/zoolinnean/zlae015

[Diplopoda • 2024] Scolopocryptops longisetosus • Taxonomic Re-appraisal of Scolopocryptops quadristriatus (Verhoeff, 1934) (Chilopoda: Scolopendromorpha: Scolopocryptopidae) and A Description of A New Species from Japan and Taiwan

Scolopocryptops longisetosus 
Jonishi & Nakano, 2024

Centipedes of the genus Scolopocryptops Newport, 1844 are blind species mostly described from the New World and East Asia. In this study, a Japanese species, S. quadristriatus (Verhoeff, 1934), which is characterised by four longitudinal keels on the tergites, is re-described, based on the likely holotype preserved in the Zoologische Staatssammlung München and specimens newly collected from near the type locality. In addition, S. longisetosus sp. nov., a new species that bears tergal keels like S. quadristriatus, is described from the Ryukyu Islands in Japan and Taiwan. Although the presence of four keels on tergites is unique to these two species, phylogenetic analyses using nuclear and mitochondrial markers showed that S. longisetosus sp. nov. is not sister to S. quadristriatus. The obtained phylogeny indicates that the tergal longitudinal keels evolved in parallel within Scolopocryptops or that the presence of keels represents a plesiomorphic character of the clade containing these species.

Key Words: molecular phylogeny, nomenclature, plesiomorphic character, Ryukyu Islands, tergal keels

Scolopocryptops longisetosus sp. nov., holotype, ♂ (KUZ Z5107: A, C–E) and non-type specimen from Yonaguni Island, ♂ (KUZ Z5124: B).
A, B. Cephalic plate and tergite 1, dorsal view; C. Distal part of article 2, article 3 and pretarsus of left second maxilla, medial view; D. Article 3 and pretarsus of left second maxilla, lateral view; E. Head, ventral view. Abbreviations: am — anterior margin of forcipular coxosternite; bs — basal suture on forcipular trochanteroprefemoral process; db — dorsal brush on article 3 of second maxilla; ds — dorsal spur on article 2 of second maxilla; pt — pretarsus of second maxilla; ptr — process of forcipular trochanteroprefemur. Scale bars: 1 mm (A, B, E); 0.2 mm (C, D).

Scolopocryptops longisetosus sp. nov., paratype, ♂ (KUZ Z5119: B), non-type specimen from Yonaguni Island, ♂ (KUZ Z5124: C) and habitat near the type locality. 
 A. Habitat (laurel tree forest) on Okinawa Island; B, C. Live specimen, dorsal view. Scale bars: 10 mm.

 Scolopocryptops longisetosus sp. nov.
 Suggested Japanese name: Kuromadara-akamukade

Diagnosis: Antenna with sparse hairs and setae of various lengths dorsally on two basal articles, subsequent articles densely covered with long setae and minute setae. Cephalic plate with complete lateral marginal sulci. Tergites lacking paramedian sutures, tergites 5–20 with four longitudinal keels and median depression bordered by paramedian keels.
Etymology: The specific name is derived from the Latin compound adjective, “longus” (long) and “setosus” (hairy), referring to the long antennal setae of this new species.

 Taro Jonishi and Takafumi Nakano. 2024. Taxonomic Re-appraisal of Scolopocryptops quadristriatus (Verhoeff, 1934) and A Description of A New Species from Japan and Taiwan (Chilopoda, Scolopendromorpha, Scolopocryptopidae). Zoosystematics and Evolution. 100(2): 405-423. DOI: 10.3897/zse.100.119297

[Arachnida • 2024] Troglotayosicus akaido • Phylogeny of the Troglomorphic Scorpion Genus Troglotayosicus (Scorpiones: Troglotayosicidae) with Description of A New Species from Colombia

Troglotayosicus akaido 
 Moreno-González, Luna-Sarmiento & Prendini, 2024

The troglomorphic scorpion genus Troglotayosicus Lourenço, 1981, occurs in hypogean and epigean habitats in the Andean and Amazonian rainforests of Colombia and Ecuador. The phylogenetic relationships among the species of Troglotayosicus are currently unknown. In the present contribution, a new species, Troglotayosicus akaido, sp. nov., is described from specimens collected in the leaf litter of a primary rainforest in the Colombian Amazon, near the border with Peru, raising the number of species in the genus to seven. The new species represents the easternmost record of the genus and further extends its distribution into the Amazon. Its phylogenetic position was tested in an analysis of all species of the genus and two outgroup taxa, scored for 131 morphological characters (16 new and 115 legacy; 104 binary and 27 multistate) analyzed with maximum likelihood under the MK model. Troglotayosicus was recovered as monophyletic and composed of two main clades. The morphological survey revealed that the ventral macrosetae of the leg telotarsi of the type species, Troglotayosicus vachoni Lourenço, 1981, are simple, subspiniform macrosetae, irregularly distributed, but not arranged into clusters nor forming elongated clusters of setae/spinules, as previously suggested. A distribution map and key to the identification of the species of Troglotayosicus are provided. Further research, incorporating molecular data, is needed to understand the evolution and biogeographical history of this enigmatic scorpion genus.

Troglotayosicus akaido, sp. nov., live habitus, holotype ♂ (ICN).
A. Anterior aspect. B. Lateral aspect.

 Troglotayosicus akaido, sp. nov., habitus, dorsal (A, C) and ventral (B, D) aspects.
A, B. Holotype ♂ (ICN). C, D. Paratype ♀ (ICN). Scale bars: 10 mm.

Jairo A. Moreno-González, David A. Luna-Sarmiento and Lorenzo Prendini. 2024. Phylogeny of the Troglomorphic Scorpion Genus Troglotayosicus (Scorpiones: Troglotayosicidae) with Description of a New Species from Colombia. American Museum Novitates. (4011), 1-39. DOI: 10.1206/4011.1 

[Entomology • 2024] Exanimus somniator, Fijixistra drobnaki, Gammonotus draudrau, Salomonotettix vincekae, etc. • Atlas of Fijian Pygmy Grasshoppers (Orthoptera: Tetrigidae) with New Taxa Descriptions and an Identification Key

Gammonotus draudrau,
somniator, E. torviscriba,
Fijixistra tvrtkoviciF. drobnaki, F. teo,
 Salomonotettix vincekae
 Kasalo, Tumbrinck, Pavlović & Skejo, 2024

Fiji is an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean from which only four species in four genera of Tetrigidae had previously been reported. We report the results of our examination of the Fijian Tetrigidae from the Queensland Museum, Brisbane, and additionally the Nederlands Centrum voor Biodiversiteit (Naturalis Biodiversity Center, formerly Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum Naturalis), Leiden. The Fijian fauna is found to be similar to, and therefore likely derived from, the New Guinean fauna. The validity of Asian Metrodorinae is called into question. The following new taxa are described: tribe Exanimini trib. nov. including genera Exanimus gen. nov. (including E. somniator sp. nov. and E. torviscriba sp. nov.) and Fijixistra gen. nov. (including F. abbreviata (Bolívar, 1887) comb. nov. of Amphinotus abbreviatusF. drobnaki sp. nov., F. teo sp. nov., and F. tvrtkovici sp. nov.); tribe Fijitettigini trib. nov. including genera Fijitettix gen. nov. (including F. godeffroyi (Günther, 1939), comb. nov. of Salomonotettix godeffroyi) and Salomonotettix Günther, 1939 (including S. vincekae sp. nov.); genus Gammonotus gen. nov. including Gammonotus draudrau sp. nov. Exanimini trib. nov. and Fijitettigini trib. nov. are of uncertain taxonomic placement, Gammonotus gen. nov. is assigned to Cladonotini Bolívar, 1887, and Thyrsus tiaratus Bolívar, 1887 is transferred from Cleostratini Bolívar, 1887 to Clinophaestini Storozhenko, 2013.

KEYWORDS: Orthoptera, Melanesia, Cladonotinae, Metrodorinae, New Guinea, island biogeography

 The following new taxa are described: 
tribe Exanimini trib. nov. 
Exanimus gen. nov. (including E. somniator sp. nov. and E. torviscriba sp. nov.
Fijixistra gen. nov. (including F. abbreviata (Bolívar, 1887) comb. nov.F. drobnaki sp. nov., F. teo sp. nov., and F. tvrtkovici sp. nov.); 

tribe Fijitettigini trib. nov.
Fijitettix gen. nov. (including F. godeffroyi (Günther, 1939), comb. nov. of Salomonotettix godeffroyi) and Salomonotettix Günther, 1939 (including S. vincekae sp. nov.); 

Cladonotini Bolívar, 1887
Gammonotus gen. nov. including Gammonotus draudrau sp. nov. 

 Clinophaestini Storozhenko, 2013
 Thyrsus tiaratus Bolívar, 1887

Niko Kasalo, Josef Tumbrinck, Marko Pavlović, and Josip Skejo. 2024. Atlas of Fijian Pygmy Grasshoppers (Orthoptera: Tetrigidae) with New Taxa Descriptions and an Identification Key. Annales Zoologici. 74(1); 43-70. DOI: 10.3161/00034541ANZ2024.74.1.003

[Mollusca • 2023] Meretrix taiwanica (Bivalvia: Veneridae) • a previously misidentified New Species in Taiwan

Meretrix taiwanica 
Hsiao & Chuang, 2023

This paper describes a new Asian hard clamMeretrix taiwanica sp. n., found in the Tamsui River estuary in northern Taiwan. This species was formerly identified as M. lusoria, and was considered to be a descendant of a clam that originated in Japan. A molecular phylogenetic analysis, however, demonstrated that Meretrix taiwanica sp. n. is closely related to M. petechialis and M. lusoria. Meretrix taiwanica is distinguished by its smaller socket width and shorter posterior dorsal margin. This species is distributed throughout the coast of Taiwan on the southern coast of China.

KEYWORDS: Asian hard clams, COI-DNA barcoding, Meretrix lusoria, Meretrix petechialis, Tamsui River

  Colour patterns of Meretrix taiwanica sp. n., FRIM10031.

  Shells of hard clams A, Meretrix taiwanica sp. n.; B, M. petechialis; C, M. lusoria; D, Cytheraea formosa (unavailable name-bearing types, syntype, digital image cited from BMNH HP collection, 20120227).

Superfamily Veneroidea Rafinesque, 1815
Family Veneridae Rafinesque, 1815

Genus Meretrix Lamarck, 1799

Meretrix taiwanica Hsiao & Chuang, sp. n.

Diagnosis: Shell surface of M. lyrata has commarginal ribs; ventral margins of M. taiwanica sp. n., M. lamarckii and M. lusoria smooth, flat and round, respectively. Meretrix taiwanica sp. n. similar in shape to M. lusoria and M. petechialis (Figure 6A–C) but differs in several morphological features. Posterior dorsal margin of M. lusoria relatively straight, causing rear shell angle to be sharper, socket narrower. Shell-shaped posterior margin of M. petechialis rounded,with wider socket. Posterior margin of M. taiwanica sp. n. rounded with narrower socket than M. petechialis.

Etymology: We name this species ‘taiwanica’ in reference to the collection locality in Taiwan. Additionally, this species is the most abundant and widely distributed hard clam in Taiwan.

Sheng-Tai Hsiao and Shih-Chang Chuang. 2023. Meretrix taiwanica (Bivalvia: Veneridae), a previously misidentified New Species in Taiwan. Molluscan Research. DOI: 10.1080/13235818.2023.2189428

[Botany • 2024] Rediscovery of Rare Steno-endemic Impatiens violoides Edgew. ex Hook.f. (Balsaminaceae) from Western Himalaya, after 179 years of type collection


Impatiens violoides Edgew. ex Hook.f.,

in Sharma, Adamowski, Naithani et Begum. 2024. 
Impatiens violoides Edgew. ex Hook.f. (Balsaminaceae) is a little known steno-endemic spurless balsam species that was known only from a single type collection by Edgeworth in 1844. It is rediscovered after a gap of 179 years from its type locality in Shimla district, Himachal Pradesh, Western Himalaya. Augmented and detailed morphological description based on observations of living material is given along with global distribution; information on habitat and associated species, floral morphology photographs and IUCN red list assessment are also provided for the first time.

Eudicots, Balsaminaceae, endemic, Flora of India, rediscovery, taxonomy

Impatiens violoides 

Ashutosh Sharma, Wojciech Adamowski, Harsh Bardhan Naithani, S. Noorunnisa Begum. 2024. Rediscovery of Rare Steno-endemic Impatiens violoides Edgew. ex Hook.f. (Balsaminaceae) from Western Himalaya, after 179 years of type collection. Phytotaxa. 644(1); 42-48. DOI: 10.11646/phytotaxa.644.1.6

[Botany • 2023] Gesneria clasei (Gesneriaceae) • A New lithophilous Species from the Sierra de Bahoruco, Dominican Republic

 Gesneria clasei  J.L.Clark, 

in Clark, 2023. 

A new lithophytic species of Gesneria was discovered during a recent research expedition to the Dominican Republic. Gesneria clasei J.L.Clark is a locally endemic species known from a single population in the Sierra de Bahoruco in the southwestern province of Barahona in the Dominican Republic. Images and a discussion are provided to differentiate Gesneria clasei from congeners that share tubular red corollas. Based on IUCN guidelines, a preliminary conservation status of Critically Endangered (CR) is assigned to G. clasei.
Keywords: Biodiversity, Gesneria, lithophyte, Sierra de Bahoruco, taxonomy

Gesneria clasei.
A. Lateral view of mature flower. B. Ventral view of mature flower. C. Shoot with foliage and calyx. D. Lateral view of immature fruit. E. Habit (lithophyte). F. Teodoro Clase adjacent to the monument of Erik L. Ekman in the central park in San José de Ocoa (Dominican Republic).
 [A–E field images from J.L. Clark & T. Clase 17372].

Gesneria clasei J.L.Clark, sp. nov.

Diagnosis.—Differs from all other Gesneria taxa by the presence of uniformly red tubular corollas, ribbed floral tubes, narrow calyx lobes that are nearly as long as the corolla tube, and a lithophytic subshrub habit.

Etymology.—The specific epithet clasei honors Teodoro Clase (Fig. 1F), a Dominican botanist from the Jardín Botánico Nacional “Dr. Rafael M. Moscoso” (JBSD) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Clase’s heroic efforts have facilitated and promoted plant biodiversity studies in the Dominican Republic, including the discovery of the species here. Clase is also an active plant collector, currently one of the most extensive for Hispaniola (more than 14,000 field collections throughout Haiti and the Dominican Republic).

John L. Clark. 2023. Gesneria clasei (Gesneriaceae), A New lithophilous Species from the Sierra de Bahoruco, Dominican Republic. Brittonia. DOI: 10.1007/s12228-023-09766-8

[Botany • 2024] Chlorohiptage vietnamensis (Malpighiaceae, Tetrapteroids) • A distinct New Genus endemic to Vietnam based on morphological and molecular data

Chlorohiptage vietnamensis T.V.Do, T.A.Le & R.F.Almeida, 

in Do, Lu, Le, Lam, Trinh, Deguine, Hoang et Almeida, 2024.

Background and aims – Vietnam is one of the leading diversity centres for Asian Malpighiaceae, comprising 24 accepted species and three native genera (i.e. Aspidopterys, Hiptage, and Tristellateia). During recent fieldwork towards completing the taxonomic revision of Malpighiaceae for the Flora of Vietnam, we have collected specimens from two populations that could not be placed in any of the three native genera of this family. We performed morphological and molecular phylogenetic studies to test the generic placement of those specimens.

Material and methods – We sampled 27 genera (including the Asian Acridocarpus, Aspidopterys, Brachylophon, Hiptage, Stigmaphyllon, and Tristellateia, out of a total of 75) of Malpighiaceae representing all phylogenetic clades comprising paleotropical lineages (i.e. acridocarpoids, bunchosioids, tetrapteroids, malpighioids, and stigmaphylloids), the unusual specimen recently collected in Vietnam, and the two genera of Elatinaceae as outgroups. Maximum Likelihood analysis was carried out based on a molecular matrix alignment of the internal transcribed spacer marker (ITS). Comprehensive morphological analyses were also carried out based on the collected specimens and additional herbarium specimens.

Key results – Our molecular phylogeny strongly supported the unusual specimen from Vietnam placed as sister to Hiptage in the tetrapteroid clade. Key morphological traits differing these Vietnamese specimens from Hiptage were identified related to the floral bud imbrication, shape, colour, posture of sepals and petals, length of stamen filaments, number of styles, and shape of mericarps, allowing the proposition of a new monospecific genus.

Conclusions – Chlorohiptage vietnamensis is proposed as a new monospecific genus closely related to Hiptage but differing in several key morphological traits. A complete morphological description is provided alongside photographic illustrations and notes on its conservation, distribution, ecology, etymology, and taxonomy. Additionally, an updated identification key to the genera of the tetrapteroid clade is provided.

Keywords: Asia, Hiptage, Malpighiales, systematics, taxonomy, tetrapteroid

Comparison of morphological traits of Chlorohiptage T.V.Do, T.A.Le & R.F.Almeida, gen. nov. with Hiptage and Aspidopterys.
A–D. Chlorohiptage. A. Leaves with two basal glands. B. Close up of a thyrse. C. A flower without petals showing the androecium and gynoecium structure and eglandular calyx. D. Close up of a mericarp.
E–H. Hiptage benghalensis (L.) Kurz. E. Leaves with two basal glands and marginal glands. F. Close up of a thyrse showing glandular calyces. G. Flower showing the androecium and gynoecium structure and petal with fimbriate margins. H. Close up of mericarp.
I–K Aspidopterys tomentosa (Blume) A.Juss. I. Leaves eglandular. J. Floral bud showing eglandular calyx. K. Flower showing the androecium and gynoecium structure and petals with margin entire. L. Shape of mericarp.
 Photographed and designed by Truong Van Do, Anh Tuan Le, and Rafael Felipe de Almeida.

Photographic plate of Chlorohiptage vietnamensis T.V.Do, T.A.Le & R.F.Almeida, sp. nov.
A. Leaves with two basal glands (indicated by red arrows). B. Close up of a thyrse. C. Open flower. D. Shape of petals. E. Flower without petals showing the androecium and gynoecium structure and the eglandular calyx. F. Close up of a 3-styled gynoecium. G–I. Close up of the androecium structure. J. Immature mericarp. K. Shape of the mature mericarp.
Photographed and designed by Truong Van Do, Anh Tuan Le, and Rafael Felipe de Almeida
 (scale bars 1 mm).

Photos of Chlorohiptage vietnamensis T.V.Do, T.A.Le & R.F.Almeida, sp. nov. from the original population in the natural habitat. A. Habitat. B. Habit. C. Branch bearing thyrses. D. Close up of a thyrse. E. Branch bearing mature mericarps.
Photographed and designed by Truong Van Do and Anh Tuan Le.

Chlorohiptage T.V.Do, T.A.Le & R.F.Almeida, gen. nov.
Chlorohiptage vietnamensis T.V.Do, T.A.Le & R.F.Almeida, sp. nov.

Diagnosis: Distinguished from Hiptage by its floral buds valvate (vs imbricate), petals pale-green to yellowish-green (vs white to yellow) with margins erose and velutine (vs dentate to fimbriate and glabrous), stamens 9 long + 1 short (vs 9 short + 1 long), styles 3 (vs 1-2), shorter than filaments of the stamens (vs longer than filaments of the stamens), mericarps with 1 lateral wing, 3-lobed (vs 3 free lateral wings).

Etymology: The name Chlorohiptage is the combination of the Greek words “chlorós” (= green) and “hiptamai” (= to fly), referring to the unique green flowers of this Hiptage look-alike new genus.

Notes: Chlorohiptage is endemic to open subtropical broad-leaved evergreen forests and limestone-steeped mountains in Central Vietnam at ca 100–250 m.

Chlorohiptage vietnamensis T.V.Do, T.A.Le & R.F.Almeida, sp. nov.

 Truong Van Do, Ngan Thi Lu, Anh Tuan Le, Mai Xuan Thi Lam, Xuan Thi Trinh, Jean-Philippe Deguine, Thao Thi Hoang and Rafael Felipe de Almeida. 2024. Chlorohiptage (Tetrapteroids, Malpighiaceae), A distinct New Genus endemic to Vietnam based on morphological and molecular data. Plant Ecology and Evolution. 157(2): 125-136. DOI: 10.5091/plecevo.115623

[Botany • 2024] Boesenbergia ashihoi (Zingiberaceae) • A New Species from northeast India

Boesenbergia ashihoi Suparna, Sameer Patil & V.Deepu, 

in Debnath, Patil et Vijayan, 2024. 

A new species of BoesenbergiaB. ashihoi Suparna, Sameer Patil & V.Deepu is described from Lumdiengsai, Meghalaya, India. Boesenbergia ashihoi resembles B. siphonantha (King ex Baker) M.Sabu, Prasanthk. & Škornick. and B. tillandsiodes (Baker) Kuntze in bearing a small globular rhizome, long-petioled leaves, horn-like spike and anther connectives without crest, but differs in having elliptic leaves (versus oblong-lanceolate), bracteoles much shorter than bracts (versus almost equalling bracts), labellum orbicular with orangish throat (versus ovate to obovate or cuneate with reddish or yellowish throat), and corolla tube 9–10 cm long (versus 1–6 cm long). The new species is described and illustrated in detail. A key to species of Boesenbergia in India is provided.

Keywords: Boesenbergia, new species, northeast India

Suparna Debnath, Sameer Patil and Deepu Vijayan. 2024. Boesenbergia ashihoi (Zingiberaceae), A New Species from northeast India. Nordic Journal of Botany. DOI: 10.1111/njb.04319

[Botany • 2023] Ceropegia stylesii (Apocynaceae: Ceropegieae, sect. Bowkerianae) • A Novel Species with rotate flowers from Ngome, South Africa

Ceropegia stylesii  

in Heiduk. 2023. 

A novel species of Ceropegia sect. Bowkerianae (Apocynaceae: Asclepiadoideae-Ceropegieae-Stapeliinae), C. stylesii, is described from Ngome in northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. This new species is vegetatively similar to C. gerrardii. The rotate non-trapping flowers of C. stylesii superficially appear to be miniature versions of a dark-flowered form of C. gerrardii, with which it is sympatric. Ceropegia stylesii is exceptionally rare with fewer than 10 individuals observed at two localities; its habitat is under anthropogenic threat. Ceropegia stylesii is considered as Critically Endangered (CR) according to IUCN criteria.

Keywords: Bowkerianae, Brachystelma gerrardii, Ceropegieae, critically endangered, endemism, KwaZulu-Natal, mistbelt grassland, Stapeliinae, Eudicots

Ceropegia stylesii Heiduk, sp. nov.

Annemarie Heiduk. 2023. Ceropegia stylesii (Apocynaceae-Asclepiadoideae)—A Novel Species with rotate flowers from Ngome, South Africa. Phytotaxa. 579(2); 117–124. DOI: 10.11646/phytotaxa.579.2.5

Introducing Ceropegia stylesii – a novel species of “Brachystelma” from South Africa

[Paleontology • 2024] Vasuki indicus • Largest known madtsoiid Snake (Ophidia: Madtsoiidae) from warm Eocene period of India suggests intercontinental Gondwana dispersal

Vasuki indicus
Datta & Bajpai, 2024

Nix Illustration (CC BY-NC 4.0) (modified Madtsoiidae illustration)

Here we report the discovery of fossils representing partial vertebral column of a giant madtsoiid snake from an early Middle Eocene (Lutetian, ~ 47 Ma) lignite-bearing succession in Kutch, western India. The estimated body length of ~ 11–15 m makes this new taxon (Vasuki indicus gen et sp. nov.) the largest known madtsoiid snake, which thrived during a warm geological interval with average temperatures estimated at ~ 28 °C. Phylogenetically, Vasuki forms a distinct clade with the Indian Late Cretaceous taxon Madtsoia pisdurensis and the North African Late Eocene Gigantophis garstini. Biogeographic considerations, seen in conjunction with its inter-relationship with other Indian and North African madtsoiids, suggest that Vasuki represents a relic lineage that originated in India. Subsequent India-Asia collision at ~ 50 Ma led to intercontinental dispersal of this lineage from the subcontinent into North Africa through southern Eurasia.

Systematic paleontology
Squamata Oppel, 1811
Ophidia Brongniart, 1800
Madtsoiidae (Hoffstetter 1961) McDowell, 1987

Vasuki indicus gen. et sp. nov.

Etymology: Generic name after the well-known Hindu mythical serpent ‘Vāsuki’ around the neck of Lord Shiva; specific name is for the country of origin i.e., India.

Holotype: IITR/VPL/SB 3102-1-21; a partial vertebral column representing the precloacal region

Horizon and locality: Naredi Formation; Panandhro Lignite Mine, district Kutch, Gujarat state, western India.

Diagnosis: Vasuki exhibits a unique combination of the following characters: presence of prominent paracotylar foramina (shared with Madtsoiidae); middle-sized cotyle (shared with Madtsoiidae); median prominence on ventral margin of centrum (shared with Madtsoiidae); prezygapophyseal process absent; high angle of synapophysis with horizontal in anterior view (avg. 71.5°); MTV diapophysis level with dorsoventral midpoint of neural canal (shared with Madtsoia madagascariensis, Madtsoia camposi, Wonambi barriei and Adinophis); prezygapophyseal buttress succeeded posteriorly by elliptical fossa (shared with Madtsoia pisdurensis); deep V-shaped embayment (shared with Gigantophis garstini and Madtsoia pisdurensis); oval precloacal cotyle (shared with Gigantophis garstini and Madtsoia pisdurensis); transversely wide vertebrae (shared with Gigantophis garstini and Madtsoia pisdurensis); neural spine posteriorly canted (shared with Gigantophis garstini and Madtsoia pisdurensis); broad hemal keel with posterior process (shared with Gigantophis garstini and Madtsoia pisdurensis); strongly notched anterior zygosphenal margin; endozygantral foramen present (shared with Madtsoia madagascariensis, Powellophis and Gigantophis garstini).

Autapomorphies: exceptionally large vertebrae [centrum length (cL): 37.5–62.7 mm and prezygapophyseal width (prW): 62.4–111.4 mm]; neural spine cross-section spade-shaped; poorly developed hemal keel which remains dorsal to the parapophyses; chisel-shaped posterior process of the hemal keel.


Debajit Datta and Sunil Bajpai. 2024. Largest known madtsoiid Snake from warm Eocene period of India suggests intercontinental Gondwana dispersal. Scientific Reports. 14, 8054. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-024-58377-0 

[Ichthyology • 2024] Careproctus io • A New Snailfish (Scorpaeniformes: Liparidae) from the Western North Pacific, with Comments on Generic Limits


 Careproctus io 
Kai, Morikawa & Misawa, 2024

The new snailfish Careproctus io is described on the basis of three specimens collected from the western North Pacific, off northeastern Honshu Island, Japan. The new species can be distinguished from congeners by the following characters: vertebrae 40–42; dorsal-fin rays 36 or 37; anal-fin rays 30; pectoral fin deeply notched with 28 or 29 rays, lower lobe reaching to anal-fin origin; large pelvic disk 34.2%–34.5% HL (10.3%–10.9% SL); teeth strongly trilobed on both jaws, inner teeth weakly trilobed or shouldered; cephalic pore pattern 2-6-7-2, chin pores paired; gill slit above pectoral-fin base; body bright red, non-variegated in life. Species of Careproctus Krøyer, 1862 typically have fewer pectoral-fin rays than anal-fin rays, although some recently-described species, including the present new species, have similar ray counts in both fins. The relationships between such counts, as well as pelvic disk size, are investigated for various snailfish, genera, and the generic limits of Careproctus discussed.

Keywords: Actinopterygii, Scorpaeniformes, Careproctus, COI, pelvic disk size

Schematic drawing of Careproctus io, holotype, FAKU 148130, 37.3mm SL.
A, Lateral and ventral views of head; B, teeth; C, pectoral girdle.
 Abbreviations: C, coracoid; DR, distal radials; F, interradial fenestra; MX, maxillary pores; N, nasal pores; PM, preoperculo-mandibular pores; PR, proximal radials; S, scapula; SP, suprabranchial pores. Scale bars: B, 0.25mm; C, 1.0mm.
Holotype of Careproctus io, FAKU 148130, 37.3mm SL.
A, Micro-CT scan image of head; B, fresh condition.

Careproctus io sp. nov.
[New standard Japanese name: Mini-kon’nyakuuo]
Diagnosis. A species of Careproctus with the following combination of characters: vertebrae 40–42; dorsal-fin rays 36 or 37; anal-fin rays 30; pectoral fin with 28 or 29 rays, deeply notched, lower lobe reaching to anal-fin origin; large pelvic disk 34.2%–34.5% HL (10.3%–10.9% SL); teeth strongly trilobed on both jaws, inner teeth weakly trilobed or shouldered; cephalic pore pattern 2-6-7-2, chin pores paired; gill slit above pectoral-fin base; body bright red, non-variegated in life.

Etymology. The specific name is a noun in apposition after Io, a Greek mythological character who wandered the world without rest, due to the unsettled phylogenetic position of the new species (see under Remarks). The standard Japanese name “Mini” reflects its small body size.

Yoshiaki Kai, Eisuke Morikawa and Ryo Misawa. 2024. Careproctus io (Teleostei: Liparidae), a New Snailfish from the Western North Pacific, with Comments on Generic Limits. Species Diversity. 29(1); 111-117. DOI: 10.12782/specdiv.29.111